Okay, that headline is an exaggeration, but not much of one.
A senate Democratic leadership aide reports that Harry Reid will file cloture on the Buffett Rule on the way out the door today, setting up a vote on it for April 16th.
The measure in question to be voted on is the proposal originally authored by Senator Sheldon Whitehouse, which is designed to ensure that taxpayers who make over $1 million pay at least a 30 percent tax rate on all their income. The Whitehouse proposal — which seeks to put Obama’s call for a Buffett Rule into law — would require millionaires to calculate their overall effective tax rate under the regular system. If that rate is under 30 percent, they’d be required to pay 30 percent.
This has no chance of becoming law, and the usual suspects will deride the vote as a political stunt. But it sets up a very interesting political drama. Every Senator is going to be required to go on record on whether they think millionaires who pay low tax rates on investments should have their overall rate brought into line with that paid by many middle class taxpayers. Virtually every Republican Senator, if not every one of them, will vote against it.
But in this case there’s an interesting twist. The vote will come just as the GOP is set to nominate a man who is worth upwards of $250 million and himself profits handsomely from paying lower tax rates than those paid by middle class tax payers — something the Buffett Rule is set to undo. The Dem plan is to cast Romney as the walking embodiment of all the ways the economy and tax code are rigged against the middle class and in favor of the rich. Dems also hope to tie Romney to the unpopular Congressional GOP.
So Dems hope this vote will prove to be a two-fer: Senate Republicans being forced to choose between siding with Obama and Dems on the Buffett Rule — or voting to protect Mitt Romney’s low tax rates.